Bletchley Park codebreakers recognized by British government

The codebreakers of Britain's Bletchley Park have finally been officially recognized by the UK government for their critical contributions winning WWII. Now, if we can only get the British government to put some money into preserving the shockingly decayed site itself...

"These people made an enormous contribution to the outcome of World War Two, the 20th century and freedom in the West," said Simon Greenish, director of the Bletchley Park Trust.

"After many years of having to keep their critical wartime work top secret, it is tremendous that this contribution has finally achieved recognition."

Heroes of Bletchley included Tommy Flowers, who built one of the world's first programmable computers, Colossus, largely using his own funds, and Dr Alan Turing, who designed the bombe cryptanalysis machines.

Flowers received an MBE and an award of £1,000 for his work while Turing was arrested for homosexuality in 1952 and committed suicide shortly afterwards, having received no official recognition for his work in his lifetime.

Government honours veterans of Bletchley Park at last (via /.)

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  1. Turing was arrested for homosexuality in 1952 and committed suicide shortly afterwards, having received no official recognition for his work in his lifetime.

    Typical of the sort of “reward” you get for serving a country or government.

  2. Turing received no official recognition for his work in his lifetime, true, but everyone remotely associated with computer science knows him and reveres him.

    Who is Tommy Flowers?

  3. Perpetuating the myth of British invincibility when it comes to reading the world’s mail. ENIGMA, which appears to have been considerably more enigmatic than the propaganda would have us believe, will never be used again and, in any case, seems like a steampunk Secret Decoder Ring compared to Rijndael or Whirlpool based stream ciphers. Bletchley Park flower girls takin’ dictation from Perfesser ‘Iggins, what? Somebody make a movie.

  4. @4

    What’s your point? That old technology seems quaint, and is much slower than today’s technology? Yawn.

    The supercomputer I worked with at Goddard Space Flight Center in the 1980s is an antique today; it’s probably sitting in a dump somewhere. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t significant in its day.

  5. my goodness people these men, women & machines where truly groundbreaking.
    for those who want a wonderful, if not truly factual account of these achievements read
    Cryptonomicon by the one and only Mr Neal Stephenson.

  6. Turing received no official recognition for his work in his lifetime, true, but everyone remotely associated with computer science knows him and reveres him.

    Fat lot of good that does him.

  7. Should note that the bombe was based on earlier work by the Polish. Also that after the war Churchill ordered Colossus and the bombes to be destroyed because he thought they were too dangerous to fall into enemy hands. One wonders how different the world would be if he went the other way…

  8. Tommy Flowers was a GPO engineer and thus knew hardware. Alan Turing was a clever man, clever enough to use maths to outwit the nazi empire but not clever enough to effectively conceal his own behaviour . Maybe hardware is easier than people?

  9. Alan Turing was a clever man, clever enough to use maths to outwit the nazi empire but not clever enough to effectively conceal his own behaviour.

    That particular form of brilliance often goes hand in hand with that particular inability.

    The shame was never his.

  10. ? perhaps he was clever enough to know that he should not have to conceal his “behaviour”. The British government at the time had many, many gay men throughout it. Were they clever in going along with the destruction and killing of identified gay people at the time?

    Turing, ahead of his time in more areas than one.

  11. There is a good and unbiased account on Enigma and Bletchley Park: http://www.codesandciphers.org.uk/enigma/index.htm

    Good to see UK government to do justice to hidden heroes.

    The fate for many of them was tragic.
    Max Ciezki, the supervisor of Polish cracking of Enigma in 1932, first suffered in Nazi camp and later died in poverty and oblivion, as the result of communists going after him…

    He was finally brought to his native Szamotuly and got postmortem honour in … 2008.

  12. @ #3

    Tommy Flowers was the inventor of the programmable computer. The Colossus was actually the first programmable computer.

  13. hey again corey,

    i think the context of alan turing’s death should be qualified.

    alan turing was judged for his crime of homosexuality. strong hormonal therapy was the sentence prescribed to cure him.

    i don’t think it should be forgotten that he committed suicide under these circumstances.

    the state that militarily benefits from his genius actively participates in assisting the death of a dedicated and talented mathematician and code breaker.

    and the official recognition? he has a roundabout named after him just outside of milton keynes.

  14. I know this thread shouldn’t really be about Alan Turing, but I just wanted to mention that his biography, although rather ‘tedious’ is fascinating and really shows what an important and dedicated person this man was. It also illuminates the tragedy of barbarism and xenophobia practiced to this day by the cowards who run our civilized governments.

  15. About time! this place is fascinating.

    Derek Jacobi plays Alan Turing in ‘Breaking the Code’ – an excellent film about his life.

    P.S. MI5 had Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt, who were both homosexual – but public school so part of the old boy network..It didn’t seem to affect their security levels..

    P.P.S. Then there is the famous apple..

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